From a shirt that used to be owned by a Pope to a Scotland away strip from 1996 – one Aberdeen man has spent years collecting football tops from around the world.
Joe Johnston, 35, has amassed a colourful collection, and a bulging wardrobe, and now he has finally completed what he started in 2010 after his last shirt arrived.
He has collected more than 400 shirts – including all 211 FIFA teams. Joe, from the Woodside area of Aberdeen, started his mission when he bought an Argentina away shirt inspired by the World Cup in South Africa.
He went on to buy a couple of other shirts – Scotland and Slovenia for £1 each, but then decided to keep collecting.
The University of Aberdeen alumni relations worker said: “I thought ‘I wonder if I can collect all the shirts from around the world’ – but I thought, that’s expensive, and a lot of countries do not have replica shirts, I thought it’s a silly thing, there’s no point.”
However, he soon found himself buying more.
He said: “I thought I am doing this, it’s taken seven years – but I have managed to do it. I have ended up with 10 Scotland shirts, and 10 Bhutan shirts. I’ve also got a lot of duplicate shirts. If someone comes along and says ‘do you want to buy an Easter Island shirt?’ I’m not able to say no.”
Some of the gems in Joe’s shirt stash include a Vatican City top and a Monaco one. He also thinks he has tops from around 50 non-FIFA countries.
Among his collection is a Azerbaijan under-17s shirt that was once owned by Pope Benedict XVI, after the team presented it to him in Italy.
Joe said: “It seems totally bizarre that I have something a Pope used to own.”
But with such a large clothes collection, space is an issue.
Joe quipped: “I only needed 200, but I have got a big wardrobe and it brightens up my life.”
Many of the items have unusual stories behind them, including his most expensive purchase – a £300 Eritrea shirt, which had an unusual journey after the team claimed asylum in Uganda.
Now that he has reached his target after the arrival of his last shirt – a Madagascar one, which took him a while to track down, he would love to put his collection on display.
He said: “I would like to have an exhibition, so many people are going to be interested. This is such a geeky thing, I’m fully prepared to admit that – but it turns out that so many people are interested in this.”
Joe said that it is “really hard” to pick the shirts he likes the most, but cites his Sierra Leone, Andorra and Scotland away shirt from 1996 as being among his favourites.
He said: “I’ve ended up spending a ridiculous amount of money, I’ve spend several thousand pounds. I do not like to think about it.”
And with such a collection in his wardrobe, surely he must be spoilt for choice as to what to wear?
Joe said: “When I started I would wear a different shirt every day. But the last 50, 60, 70 are all really expensive and rare, I do not wear them very often. What if I got jam all over my Madagascar shirt? I wouldn’t get another.”
For more information on Joe’s journey go to www.theglobalobsession.com